I’m having trouble forgiving American chocolate makers for not taking chocolate to the sensory peaks I have experienced in Switzerland. Yes, I know most cows in the US don’t get to eat wildflowers all day in Alpine splendor. I also know we don’t have the history of chocolate manufacturing the Swiss enjoy. But when I looked through the window of a chocolate shop in Geneva and saw a row of 30-centimeter (12-in) chocolate frogs with thick green marzipan lips and gaping mouths filled with small confections, I couldn’t help wondering where American ingenuity went wrong. If we can discover electricity, invent the automobile, and create the iPhone, why didn’t an American think of making giant chocolate frogs with bugging marzipan lips and eyes?
Christopher Columbus brought chocolate back to Spain from the New World in 1502, and Switzerland didn’t even open its first chocolate factory until 1819. Chocolate comes from our side of the Atlantic in the first place, and Americans have had some 200 years to get with the program. So I’m grieving those Swiss frogs every time I open a plain old bar of zebra-striped, orange-flavored, American milk chocolate or eat another chocolate rose. I can’t even bring myself to look at one more foil-wrapped chocolate Santa or another chocolate bunny. Yawn.
Well, it’s clear to me the Swiss have their priorities in order. Even though they didn’t give women the vote until 1971 and they have questionable banking practices for handling the money of the world’s rich and infamous, they know their chocolate. The Swiss consume 54 percent of the chocolate they produce with a per capita consumption of a whopping 11.5 kilograms (25.4 lbs) per person per year. I’ll just betcha every Swiss person eats at least one of those frogs every year. That does it—I’m applying for Swiss citizenship.